It’s common to lose some friends and gain others when your child is born or diagnosed with special needs. Suddenly you find yourself totally lost in the same world that once upon a time was the most exciting and funny place for you.
Parents of a child with special needs often express a common sentiment, that, “When you are the parent of a child with special needs, you feel firsthand love and cruelty as you have not ever before.” But it’s not that the world is different than it was before, it’s only that now you are more sensitive to life than ever.
Of course there are wonderful friends who will keep walking by your side. Yet others will definitely give up your friendship because they don’t know how to react, how to treat your child or how to celebrate something that for them is very hard to understand.
Thinking on this subject, I wrote these 12 rules of friendship from a mother of a child with special needs:
1. Please educate your children about my child’s condition. Don’t ask them to be nicer to him because of his disability. Ask them to treat him like any other child. That’s what I teach my child about yours.
2. For my birthday don’t bring me flowers or presents, just give me a break and let me have some time for myself. Help me take care of my child for a couple of hours. I trust you like nobody else.
3. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m growing and learning from this. There’s nothing really different between you and me. We both do our best every day.
4. Take me out! Don’t let me say no. Let’s wear high heels and our best make up. I need to enjoy myself.
5. Don’t worry if you see me crying. Let me be alone, and understand that sometimes I need to fall to get up stronger than ever.
6. Don’t be shy about sharing your children’s achievements. I’ll celebrate this special time along with you. My child has his own achievements and I’m thankful that you are always there to celebrate simple things with me.
7. I know you want to help but please don’t tell me how to do things better. As mothers we have plenty of things in common, but we have also some different challenges and prizes in this task. Just understand that there are things about my child that you would probably never understand, and that’s okay. You don’t need to understand us, just accept us. I’ll do the same for you.
8. Please remind me to have faith. I know sometimes I’m over protective and I get easily scared of simple things.
9. Call me anytime when you need to talk, or stop by if you need a hug. I know my life seems complicated sometimes, but I’ll always do my best to be there for you, as you are always there for me. I feel proud and happy to be able to help you.
10. Let’s laugh and have fun. Call me whenever you need to talk bad about your mother in law, enjoy the latest magazine cover of William Levy, or discuss Angelina Jolie’s legs. I’m here for the important stuff but I’m also here to share some laughs and “girl talk.”
11. Please excuse me if I talk too much about therapies, inclusion, and stuff that’s foreign to you. Sometimes I have nothing else to share. I´m not obsessed, I´m just trying to understand.
12. Finally and the most important: Love my child in his ups and downs. I swear I’ll love yours the same.
I don’t want more from you than you do from me. I want you to count on me. To believe that even though our lives are not exactly the same, we can still share, have things in common and always be there for each other.
Thanks for keeping me down to earth. For listening, for talking, for being quiet and for being always close to me.
Thanks for being my friend. You are a special being to me.